Strategy, How To Be Nimble

Originally published on One Uproar

It’s that time of year where we’re all thinking about the new year ahead, forecasting business, budgets and new product launches. How can small and large companies plan, create strategy and be nimble in today’s environment?

My prior posts on strategy focused on how to think about your strategy , how to formulate a plan and how to set goals and objectives. Many companies struggle with how to be nimble, think fast and act quickly. It’s a struggle when your company grows and the decision tree is no longer just 2-3 people. Making decisions and getting buy-in is not as simple as it used to be.

Once your plan and strategy is set you should also think about when you’ll review it. A bi-annual review used to be the sufficient but companies today have to move much faster to stay ahead of the competition and keep their edge.

What’s the right formula?

  1. Set a review structure  – Determine how often you and your team will review the plan and strategy. There’s no silver bullet here. Your industry, product and services will most likely influence your decision. For example, software companies move more rapidly and could re-visit strategy every few months. While healthcare and financial companies will move slower given their nature.  Whatever you decide establish a schedule and stick to it.
  2. Tweaking the plan – You just spent all that time formulating the plan and now you may need to change it. Every company has to do this, so don’t sweat it. The fact that you have a plan to tweak is better than not having one at all. Innovative companies do this all the time. Changing course, holding back a product or speeding up development are what keep your company ahead of the competition and forward thinking.
  3. Making decisions faster – This is the most challenging part of being nimble and innovative. It’s inherent to your leadership team and culture. If your leadership team doesn’t move fast this is not an overnight change. There’s a fine line between proactive quick decision making and reactive decision making. Remember you’re trying to be proactive and nimble—don’t react just to act.
  4. Establish a fast-track decision group/process – Being nimble means you’ve got to throw out the committee way of making a decision. Establish a group that meets solely for the purpose of being fast decision makers—that team will already be in the mind-set of thinking rapidly and acting upon it.
  5. Create a test lab – Some companies establish teams with smaller budgets and specific timelines so they can work outside of the norms and move quicker to get things done. These teams are set-up for the purpose of faster decisions and  anticipating what’s next.
  6. Everyone creates the next idea – A start-up  I know has each employee post their idea on a post-it each month for everyone to consume and see. The CEO visits the board and chooses ideas he thinks fits into their current strategy and structure. This company bypasses the meeting and committee process and everyone feels part of how strategy and innovation get implemented.

As I said earlier, there’s no silver bullet to being nimble but you can establish a structure and framework for how your company operates and becomes more agile. Writing that plan, formulating strategy and tweaking does make you and your company smarter and more adapt. You’ll also find your own way of making the process more efficient as you get a few under your belt. Who knows, you might even wonder, how did we operate without this framework in place before?